Lijiang, a small city by Chinese standards, is located in south west China and close to the Tibet border. The city is an extremely popular tourist destination due to its well preserved ancient buildings and it’s ancient local culture.
The main attraction in Lijiang is the area they refer to as ‘The Old Town’, or Lijiang Ancient City, and it’s exactly that, an old town still with it’s original narrow cobblestone streets and fascinating traditional chinese architecture. Many streams run through the old city adding to it’s charm with the water originating from the nearby mountains.
I was really fortunate to be in Lijiang in slow season, as at other times of the year this place can apparently be petty busy place, and a local told me that, so by western standards it must be insanely busy. But in early March I found it to be ok, and most of the time you could have a relaxing and enjoyable walk around the town and soak up the wonder of this characterful place.
At one end of the Old Town is Yuhe Square which features an old water wheel and bridge over the crystal clear stream that winds it’s way through the town. The streets surrounding the square are packed with resturants, souvenir stalls, cafes and more. The buildings may be old but modern day commercial reality marches on.
There is also a ‘bar street’ which lives up to its name being packed with bars, maybe I’m too old and just wanted to relax but these bars really like it loud. So loud it’s near impossible to order a drink and when you do you may have to order a minimum of 200rmb worth of drinks to sit at a table, even though they’re not busy! Whats really odd, is that these bars just don’t match the location, they’re located on the ancient cobblestone streets with a calm and peacefuly flowing stream running between either side, ….and theres the bars, pumping out music at an ear shattering level…
Past the souvenir stalls and bars there are plenty of Inns and hostels within the old city making use of the traditional buildings, and it really becomes a wonderful place to just stroll around and soak up the culture. The place really starts to instill a uniquely peaceful feeling, walking along the old streets that people have been walking on for hundreds of years, admiring the clear water streams and magnificent old bridges, and wondering what life was like here all those years ago.
More Photos of Lijiang Old Town (Ancient City)
The photo above is of Mu’s Mansion, Mu was once leader of the Naxi people and this palace was originaly constructed during the Ming Dynasty making it somewhere around 600 years old, although what we see today is a rebuild as the original was destroyed in war.
Lijiang offers much more than just the well known, and well visited, Old Town, there’s also Suhe Ancient Town which is even more charming than the Old Town and less ‘touristy’, there’s the Black Dragon Pool, Elephant Hill, Jade Water Village and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
It would be easy to spend a lot of time in this area, and there is so much I didn’t see, such as the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the nearby Tiger Leaping George, the First Bend of the Yangtzhe River, just up the road is the city of Shangri-La, Dali and some hours away is Lugu Hu Lake. My time here was way too short!!
For more photos see Yunnan Province and Lijiang Photos
For more info for planning a trip to Lijiang see the official Lijiang Tourism website or Lijiang at wikitravel.org which have info on trains/buses between Lijiang – Dali – Shangri La – Kunming etc. plus other travel tips.
Lijiang Map featuring nearby hotels